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Egypt's stock market reaches new, 5-year high

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 20, 2014 at 10:27 am •  Published: March 20, 2014

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's stock market reached a new, 5-year high Thursday, pushing to levels unseen since the 2008 global economic crisis despite ongoing political turmoil and unrest in the country.

The country's main stock index, the EGX30, closed up at 8,459.38 points. That's a 24.7 percent increase for the last year, something analysts say is linked to investors welcoming the military's plans for the country as it looks increasingly likely that Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt's defense minister, will run for the presidency. El-Sissi led the July overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader.

Exchange spokesman Hesham Turk said Thursday that the EGX30 reached levels Wednesday higher than on Sept. 9, 2008 — a peak before the global financial crisis and the 2011 revolt that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

"Having a very tight political agenda is keeping the market solid," said Ahmed Abou el-Saad, managing director at Rasmala Egypt Asset Management. "Egyptian companies are seeing double-digit growth rates."

The market also has been bolstered by Egypt's central bank easing restrictions on foreign currency leaving the country. The bank tightened restrictions in late 2012 as the Egyptian pound depreciated and anxious citizens rushed to convert their savings to dollars.

Many economists still consider the Egyptian pound, which is about 7 pounds per U.S. dollar, overvalued and propped up by the government, which has used fast-dwindling foreign currency reserves to keep the value artificially high.

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